According to a naturopath, Dr Gilbert, Ezengige, regular consumption of these natural plants will help in stabilising their glucose level. “Medicinal plants possess the ability to re-generate pancreatic beta cells, promote insulin release and fight the problem of insulin resistance,” he added.
Ezengige said bitter kola (garcinia kola) known as Orogbo in Yoruba and Aki-ilu in Igbo and bitter leaf’s extract (Vernonia amygdalina) can lower blood sugar level.
“It contains a bioflavonoid that has a blood sugar lowering property,” he said.
He said okro (Abelmoschus esculentus) improves insulin sensitivity, adding that cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is one of the most important vegetables for diabetics because “it regenerates the pancreas.”
Also, guava (Psidium guajava) which is rich in fibers lowers glycemic index, thus, makes it a perfect fruit for diabetics.
He said cashew (anacardium occidentale) should be taken due to its hypoglycemic property.
“Fluted pumpkin known botanically as telfaria occidentalis and Ugu in Igbo has efficacious properties to help the recovery of a diabetic.
“The water extract from its leaves as well as cooked seeds of Ugu have antihyperglycaemic property which makes it beneficial to diabetics,” he said.
The natural medicine practitioner recommended groundnut because of its blood sugar level lowering ingredients. Consumption of peanut and peanut butter daily is important, he added.
Diabetics, he said, should eat raw onions and garlic, adding that they are good as they possess anti-hyperglycemic properties.
“Ginger too can be eating because it increases insulin sensitivity. It also has antihyperglycaemic property.
“Water extract of basil (scent leaf) known botanically as Ocimum gratissimum; Efirin in Yoruba, Nchuanwuin Igbo lowers blood glucose level.
“Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan) seeds flour known in Igbo as fio-fio; Otili in Yoruba are very effective too.”
The alternative medicine practitioner also recommended boiled “unripe” plantain because of it lowers glycemic figure.
Diabetics, Ezenige said, should take Vitamin B complex, Vitamin B6 (50mg – 100mg per day improves glucose tolerance), adding that coenzyme Q10 (100 mg/day may stabilise blood sugar in some diabetics.
“Vitamin C should be taken daily to improve glucose tolerance reducing insulin while vitamin E with mixed tocopherols prevents vascular complications and as such improves glucose tolerance.
Taking chromium daily, he said, can restore normal glucose utilisation and promotes efficacy of insulin.
“Daily magnesium intake improves insulin production while regular consumption of zinc helps to lower blood sugar levels,” he said.
Many people, Ezengige said, are suffering from diabetes without knowing how to manage it.
He said nutrition can help to effectively check the disease, stressing that diabetics should not depend on drugs and insulin to manage the disease as adequate nutritional support would help in the management of the disorder.
Ezengige, who is the General Secretary, Natural Integrative Medicine Practitioners Association (NIMPA), said food is medicine and medicine is food.
He described diabetes mellitus as a medical condition characterised by persistent high level of sugar in the blood.
This, he said, was occasioned by inadequate secretion of the hormone, insulin or the ineffectiveness of the body cells to efficiently utilise insulin.
The natural medicine practitioner said people should know their Fasting Blood Sugar (FBS) by having a test to confirm whether their blood sugar is high or not.
He identified frequent thirst, hunger and urination, as well as weight loss as symptoms.
Others are body weakness, itching and tingling as well as numbness and blurred visions.
Ezengige said there are three types of diabetes mellitus (DM). They are insulin-dependent DM (IDDM), which is also called type 1 or juvenile-onset diabetes; non-insulin dependent DM (NIDDM) known as type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes (Pregnancy induced diabetes).
Diabetes, he said, is a serious metabolic disorder across the world.
He said about 90 per cent of people living with diabetes mellitus have type 2 (NIDDM), adding that half of them may not know they have it.
“Studies show that an estimated 2.8 per cent of the world population is affected by diabetes mellitus and that this figure may cross 5.4 per cent by the year 2025,” he said.
Nigeria, he said, is among the top five countries that have the highest number of people affected by type 2-diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa. It has about 1.2 million people living with the disorder; South Africa, 841,000; the Democratic Republic of Congo, 552,000; Ethiopia, 550,000 and Tanzania, 380,000,” he said.
He listed social structure, obesity and hormonal imbalance as factors influencing diabetes.
Others are heredity and psychic stress.
Ezengige said there are six tastes in foods, such as bitter, sweet and sour. Also on the list are salty, pungent and astringent.
He said: “Modern day eating habits largely overlooks the simple fact that the six tastes in foods affect our physiology. The consumption of artificial sweet foods is prevalent and as such is detrimental of other foods’ tastes.” This, he said, is contributing to various ailments affecting people, especially diabetes.
He identified bitters as an important food for diabetes mellitus treatment and management.
“The physiological effects of bitters among other benefits are body tonics, which tones the pancreas. Bitters increase secretion of digestive juices,” he said.
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